The bathroom receives a lot of attention when home safety for seniors is discussed (see our article on Bathroom Safety for Seniors); however, bedroom safety for the older adult should also be discussed as the bedroom is another common place for falls.
The most common bedroom safety hazards are furniture since bedrooms tend to have a lot of furniture in a small space. Additionally, as we get older, the need to go to the bathroom during the night increases, which also increases the risk of falls.
Here are some bedroom safety tips to help make the bedroom safer for the person in your care:
- Getting in and out of bed can be difficult if the older adult in your care is unsteady as there is usually nothing secure and safe to hold onto beside the bed. If bed transfers or moving from bed to bathroom is a concern then try using adaptive devices such as floor to ceiling poles or bed rails that can be utilized to maximize safety.
- Frequent urination at night is also a safety concern. If getting up to go the bathroom or frequent urination at night is common, then using a bedside commode or urinal should be considered to minimize risk of falling when walking to the bathroom. If incontinence is a concern then the senior in your care could also wear incontinence garments so they have a backup if they do not make it to the bathroom. If using a commode, ensure the toilet paper and hand sanitizer are within reach. The commode should be placed close to the bed to minimize walking. If your care recipient is walking to the bathroom, ensure they have a clutter-free, well-lit path between the bed and the bathroom.
- It is important that the older adult in your care does not get up from a reclined position too quickly. This may cause them to become dizzy or unsteady. When changing positions the care recipient should sit on the side of their bed for a few minutes before standing. They should pump their ankles 10 times. Then they can stand, pause for the count of 10, and take a deep slow breath before they take a step.
- If a gait aid is used, such as a walker, ensure they have clear pathways so the gait aid can be parked close to the bed. The walker will not assist if the client has to walk to get the walker.
- Ensure there are clear pathways, with minimal clutter for the client to access the bed, closet, doorway, and to get to the bathroom.
- Ensure there are no wrinkles in the carpet or damaged flooring that could cause a tripping hazard. Remove scatter mats.
- If balance is a concern or if dressing from a sitting position was recommended by the health care professional involved, ensure there is a chair or bed to use for this purpose.
- Keep items stored within closets and dressers within reach.
- Ensure needed items on night tables are within reach. There should be an easy to reach/access lamp as well. Some lamps light up with touch or sound and could be a good option for the older adult in your care.
- Check the height of the bed. Some mattresses are very high when paired with a box spring and bed frame and can be too high to safely transfer in and out of. Look at alternative mattresses or if the bed frame can be safely altered to reduce the overall height. Alternatively, some beds are too low so you will need to determine if furniture risers are sufficiently safe to adapt the height of the bed.
- Check to ensure night clothes and bathrobes are not too loose or too big to minimize the risk of the care recipient tripping or having pockets or sleeves that might get caught on door knobs.
See also, our Elizz blog article on Home Safety Checklist for Seniors and Caregivers.